SENATE BILL NO. 666
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 24, TITLE 29 AND TITLE 31 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO THE BOARD OF SOCIAL WORK EXAMINERS.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:
Section 1. Amend Chapter 37, Part II, Title 31 of the Delaware Code by striking said chapter in its entirety.
Section 2. Amend Title 24 of the Delaware Codc by adding thereto a new chapter, designated as Chapter 39, which new chapter shall read as follows:
"CHAPTER 39. CLINICAL SOCIAL WORKERS
§3901. Objectives and Functions
The primary objective of the Board of Social Work Examiners, to which all other objectives and purposes are secondary, is to protect the general public (specifically those persons who are direct recipients of services regulated by this Chapter) from unsafe practices, and from occupational practices which tend to reduce competition or fix the price of services rendered. The secondary objectives of the Board are to maintain minimum standards of practitioner competency, and to maintain certain standards in the delivery of services to the public. In meeting its objectives, the Board shall develop standards assuring professional competence; shall monitor complaints brought against practitioners regulated by the Board; shall adjudicate at formal complaints hearings; shall promulgate rules and regulations; and shall impose sanctions where necessary against practitioners.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this Chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this Section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
(a) 'Board' shall mean the Board of Social Work Examiners.
(b) 'Clinical social work' shall mean a service in which a special knowledge of social resources, human capabilities, and the part unconsious motivation plays in determining behavior is directing at helping people to achieve more adequate, satisfying productive social adjustments. The application of social work priniciples and methods Includes, but is not restricted to, counseling and using applied psychotherapy of a non-medical nature with individuals, families and groups.
(c) 'Licensed clinical social worker' shall mean any individual duly licensed under this chapter.
(d) 'Clinical practice' shall mean the practice clinical social work for a fee in a setting under than the auspres of a public or private non-profit agency exempt from federal income tax under the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 (26 U.S.C. §501 (c) (3)1).
§3903. License to Practice
No person shall hold himself out to the public as being a licensed clinical social worker qualified for practice as defined in §3902 of this Chapter, or use in connection with his name or otherwise assume, use or advertise any title or description tending to convey the impression that he is a licensed clinical social worker unless such person has been duly licensed under this Chapter.
§3904. Board of Social Work Examiners
(a) The Board of Social Work Examiners shall consist of five members appointed by the Governor: three professional members who shall be licensed social workers; and two public members. To serve on the Board, a public member shall not be nor ever have been a social worker, nor a member of the immediate family of a social worker; shall not have been employed by a social work agency; shall not have had a material financial interest in the providing of goods and services to social workers; nor have been engaged in an activity directly related to social work. Such public member shall be accessible to inquiries, comments and suggestions from the general public.
(b) Each member shall serve for a term of three years, and may succeed himself for one additional term; provided however, that where a member was initially appointed to fill a vacancy, such member may succeed himself for only one additional full term. Any person appointed to fill a vacancy on the Board shall hold office for the remainder of the unexpired term of the former
member. Each term of office shall expire on the date specified in the appointment, and the member shall no longer be eligible to participate in Board proceedings unless lawfully appointed.
(c) A member of the Board shall be suspended or removed by the Governor for misfeasance, non-feasance or malfeasance. A member subject to disciplinary proceedings shall be disqualified from Board business until the charge is adjudicated, or the matter is otherwise concluded. A Board member may appeal any suspension or removal to the Superior Court.
(d) No member of the Board of Social Work Examiners, while serving on the Board, shall be a President, Chairman or other official of a professional association for social workers.
(e) The provisions set forth for "employees" in §5855 of Title 29 shall apply to all members of the Board, and to all agents appointed by or otherwise employed by the Board.
(f) Board members shall be reimbursed for all expenses involved in each meeting, including travel; and in addition shall receive not more than fifty dollars ($50.00) for each meeting attended, but not more than five hundred dollars ($500.00) in any calendar year. After ten meetings have been attended, the member shall not be compensated for any subsequent meetings attended in that year."
§3905. Officers; Conduct of Business
(a) In the same month of each year the members shall elect, from among their number, a President, a Secretary and a Treasurer. Each officer shall serve for one year, and shall not succeed himself in the same office.
(b) The Board shall hold regularly scheduled business meetings at least once in each quarter of a calendar year, and at such other times as the President deems necessary; or at the request of a majority of Board members. Notice of such business meeting, together with a copy of the minutes of the last meeting, shall be sent to the office address of each practitioner licensed under this chapter at least one week prior to the meeting. Special or emergency meetings may be held without notice, but a copy of the minutes of the special or emergency meeting shall be included with the notice sent to practitioners for the next following business meeting.
(c) A majority of members shall constitute a quorum; and no action shall be taken without the affirmative vote of at least three members. Any member who falls to attend three consecutive meetings, or who fails to attend at least half of all regular business meetings during any calendar year, shall automatically upon such occurrence be deemed to have resigned from office and a replacement shall be appointed.
(d) Minutes of all meetings shall be recorded, and copies shall be maintained by the Division of Business and Occupational Regulation. At any hearing where evidence is presented, such hearing shall be recorded and transcribed by the Division.
§3906. Powers and Duties
(a) The Board of Social Work Examiners shall have authority to:
(1) Formulate rules and regulations, with appropriate notice to those affected relating to official seals and other matters, with appropriate notice to those affected, where such notice can reasonably be given. Each rule or regulation shall implement or clarify a specific section of this chapter;
(2) Designate the application form to be used by all applicants, and to process all applications;
(3) Designate a written national examination, prepared by either the national professional association or by a recognized legitimate national testing service. The examination shall be prepared for testing on a national basis, and not specifically prepared at the request of the Board for its individual use. The national examination shall be taken by persons applying for licensure, except applicants who qualify for licensure by reciprocity;
(4) Provide for the administration of all examinations, including notice and information to applicants;
(5) Under such conditions as are permitted by the national testing service, to administer a nationally prepared and corrected examination for those applicants who have been unable to take it at the school or college of social work examiners, or elsewhere;
(6) Grant licenses to all persons who meet the qualifications for licensure;
(7) Receive complaints from practitioners and from the public concerning practitioners, or concerning practices of the profession; to evaluate such complaints; and to take such action within its powers as the Board deems appropriate;
(8) Determine whether or not a practitioner shall be the subject of a disciplinary hearing, and if so, to conduct such hearing in accordance with this chapter and the provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act;
(9) Where it has been determined after a disciplinary hearing, that penalties or sanctions should be imposed, to designate and impose the appropriate sanction or penalty after time for appeal has lapsed;
(10) Bring proceedings in the courts for the enforcement of this chapter;
(1) Maintain complete records relating to meeting minutes, applications, examinations, rosters, changes and additions to the rules and regulations, complaints, hearings, and such other matters as the Board shall determine.
(b) The Board may require by subpoena the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production papers, records or other documentary evidence."
§3907. Application Procedure
(a) An applicant who is applying for examination and licensure under this Chapter shall have the following qualifications:
(1) An applicant shall have a doctorate or master's degree in social work from a college or university accredited by the Council on Social Work Education;
(2) The applicant shall not have been convicted of a felony, professionally penalized or convicted of drug addiction, shall not have been penalized or convicted for willfully violating any confidential communication, nor have been professionally penalized or convicted for fraud.
(3) Each applicant shall provid such information as may be required on an appliation form designed and furnished by the Board. No application form shall require a picture of the applicant; require information relating to citizenship, place of birth, length of state residency; nor require personal references.
(b) Where the Board has found to its satisfaction, that an applcation has been ntentionally fraudulent or that false information has been intentionally supplied, it shall report its findings to the Attorney General for further action.
(c) Where the application of a person has been refused or rejected, and such applicant feels that the Board has acted without justification; has imposed higher or different standards for him than for other applicants or licensees; or has in some other manner contributed to or caused the failure of such application, the applicant may appeal to the Superior Court.
§3907. Examination of Applicants
(a) The Board shall, in the same month of each year, or at such times as are determined by the testing service, administer a national examination prepared by Professional Examination Services or other similar national testing service; or such portions of the national examination as the Board deems necessary. Such national written examination shall be obtained from, and be corrected by, the testing service which prepared the examination. Where an applicant has failed to pass the examination, but has successfully completed or passed certain portions or sections of the examination, the applicant shall in the next subsequent examination be tested only for those portions or sections which he previously failed, if the testing service permits such partial examination. In the event the applicant fails the second time to successfully complete or pass the examination, the Board may require that such applicant again take the complete examination.
(b) In the event the applicant has already taken and passed the national examination designed by Professionni Fxamination Services, or a national examination approved by the American Association of Social Workers, the certificate or other evidence of successful completion from the American Association of Social Workers acknowledging same shall be accepted, and no further State examination shall be necessary.
Where the applicant is already licensed in another State, the Board shall accept a certificate, or other evidence of his examination score issued by Professional Examination Services that the applicant has successfully completed and passed its national examination, or the certificate of the American Association of Social Workers attesting that the applicant has successfully completed and passed a national examination of similar quality, in lieu of all other examination requirements provided for in this Chapter. Upon receipt of an application for reciprocity, the Board shall contact each board which has previously licensed the applicant, to determine whether or not there are disciplinary proceedings or unresolved complaints pending against the applicant. In the event there is a disciplinary proceeding or unresolved complaint pending, the applicant shall not be licensed until the proceeding or the complaint has been resolved. An application for licensure by reciprocity shall be accompanied by full payment of the reciprocity fee.
(a) The amount to be charged for each fee imposed under this chapter shall approximate and reasonably reflect all costs necessary to defray the expenses of the Board as well as the proportional expenses incurred by the Division of Business and Occupational Regulation in its services on behalf of the Board. There shall be a separate fee charged for each service or activity, but no fee shall be charged for a purpose not specified in this Chapter. The application fee shall not be combined with any other fee or charge. At the beginning of each calendar year the Division of Business and Occupational Regulation, or any other state agency acting in its behalf, shall compute for each separate service or activity, the appropriate Board fees for the coming year.
(b) In those instances where a national examination is to be taken in Delaware, applicants shall nevertheless pay all fees charged by the testing service directly to the testing service. Where the testing service refuses to accept direct payment, the applicant may pay the Board. In the event there are extra local expenses incurred by the State for its services in administering the examination, the applicant shall pay an additional fee to the Board to defray those local expenses.
§3910. Licensure; Renewal of License
(a) Each person who has passed the written examination, who has been admitted to practice in this State by reciprocity, or who has otherwise qualified for a license shall, prior to practicing in this State, file for and obtain an occupational license from the Division of Revenue in accordance with Chapter 23 of Title 30. The Board shall forthwith issue a license to each person who has qualified for same under the provisions of this chapter.
(b) Each license shall be renewed biennially, in such manner as is determined by the Division of Business and Occupational Regulation. The Board shall, in its rules and regulations, determine the period of time within which a practitioner may still renew his license, notwithstanding the fact that such practitioner has failed to renew on or before the renewal date; provided however, that such period shall not exceed one year. The Board shall charge for each month or quarter during such "late renewal period" a late fee which, at the end of such "late period" will be twice the sum of the unpaid renewal fee. At the expiration of the period designated by the Board, the license shall be deemed to be lapsed and not renewable, unless the former licensee re-applies under the same conditions which govern reciprocity; provided however, that the former licensee shall also pay a reinstatement fee in an amount which is three times the amount of the reciprocity fee.
(c) Any licensee may, upon his written request, be placed in an inactive status. The renewal fee of such person shall be pro-rated in accordance with the amount of time such person was inactive. Such person may re-enter practice upon notification to the Board of his intent to do so.
(d) A former licensee who has been penalized for the violation of a provision of this chapter, or whose license has been suspended or revoked, and who subsequently is permitted to apply for reinstatement shall apply for a new license, successfully complete the Uniform National Examination, and shall pay all appropriate fees therefor."
§3911. Continuing Education
(a) The Board may, in accordance with the conditions and limitations set forth in this section, require licensees to maintain certain continuing education standards. Any continuing education program in which practitioners are required to participate shall:
(1) Be a program which annually begins one year prior to the date of license renewal;
(2) Be initiated at a regularly-scheduled business meeting of the Board in which all methods, programs and approaches suggested at the meeting are considered, and the program is adopted by a majority of all licensees attending the meeting;
(3) Establish, at the first meeting, the total number of hours or credits required of each licensee for that continuing education year; courses or seminars which- are approved for continuing education credit, and the amount of such credit; and the approximate date, time and place where each is to be held.
(b) Each practitioner shall receive from the Board a notice of all courses and seminars in the continuing education program for the coming year, which notice shall contain for each course or seminar: The subject matter involved; the time, date, and place; and the charge or fee, if any, to attend.
(c) No practitioner shall be penalized in any manner for not obtaining sufficient continuing education credits or hours, if the continuing education program does not comply with this section.
§3912. Privileged Communclations
No licensed clinical social worker may disclose any information acquired from persons consulting him in a professional capacity except:
(a) With the written consent of such person or, in the case of death or disability, the written consent of such person's personal representative, other person authorized to sue, or the beneficiary of an insurance policy on his life, health, or physical condition.
(b) That a licensed clinical social worker shall not be required to treat as confidental a communication that reveals prior commission of, of the contemplation of, any violent crime or harmful act.
(c) When the person is a minor under the laws of this State and the information acquired indicates that the minor was the victim or subject of a crime. The licensed clinical social worker may disclose information requested where such social worker is required to testify fully in any examination, trial or other proceeding in which the commission of such a crime is the subject of inquiry.
(d) When the person waives the privilege by bringing charges against the licensed clinical social worker.
(a) Any practitioner or member of the public who has a question or a complaint concerning any aspect of the practice of social work may, during the regular business hours of a business day, contact the Board or the Division of Business and Occupational Regulation; or voice such question or complaint at a business meeting of the Board.
(b) The Board shall investigate any complaint, including oral and anonymous complaints; and shall follow through on those informal complaints which, upon investigation, appear to be valid and well-founded. In cases where the complainant is known to the Board, it shall, within one week after receipt of the complaint, notify the complainant as to of what action (if any) the Board Intends to take in the matter. A complete record shall be kept of each complaint, formal or informal; provided however, that the complaints records may be purged after five years.
§3914. Violations; Grounds for Professional Discipline
(a) Practitioners regulated under this Chapter shall be subject to those disciplinary actions set forth in §3915 if, after a hearing, the Board finds:
(1) That the practitioner has employed or knowingly cooperated in fraud or material deception in order to be licensed, or be otherwise authorized to practice social work;
(2) Illegal, incompetent or negligent conduct in the practice of social work;
(3) Excessive use or abuse of drugs (including alcohol, narcotics or chemicals);
(4) That the practitioner has been convicted of a felony or crime involving moral turpitude;
(5) That the practitioner, as a social worker or otherwise in the practice of his profession, knowingly engaged in an act of consumer fraud or deception, engaged in restraint of the competiton, or participated in price-fixing activities;
(6) That the practitioner has violated a lawful provision of this Chapter, or any lawful regulation established thereunder.
(b) A practitioner shall be subject to non-disciplinary remedial action if, after a hearing, the Board finds that there is a danger to the health, safety and welfare the public due to:
(1) Physical illness or loss of motor skill, including but not limited to deterioration through the aging process; or
(2) Temporary emotional disorder or mental illness;
(3) Permanent emotional disorder or mental illness.
examination. Failure to comply with a lawful order to submit to a physical or mental examination shall render a practitioner liable to temporary suspension or revocation of license in accordance with §3915.
(d) Where a practitioner fails to comply with the Board's request that he submit to an examination or attend a hearing, the Board may petition the Superior Court to order such examination or attendance, and the said Court or any judge assigned thereto shall have jurisdiction to issue such order.
(e) Subject to the provisions of Subchapter IV, Chapter 101, Title 29 of the Delaware Code, no license shall be restricted, suspended or revoked by the Board; and no practitioner's right to practice shall be limited by the Board, until such practitioner has been given notice, and an opportunity to be heard in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act.
§3915. Remedial Actions and Disepliny Sanctions
The Board may impose any of the following sanctions, singly or in combination, when it finds that one of the conditions or violations set forth in §3913 applies to a practitioner regulated by this Chapter:
(1) Issue a letter of reprimand ;
(2) Censure a practitioner;
(3) Place a practitioner on probationary status, and require the practitioner to:
(i) Report regularly to the Board upon the matters which are the basis on the probation,
(ii) Limit all practice and professional activities to those areas prescribed by the Board,
(iii) Continue or renew his professional education until the required degree of skill has been attained in those areas which are the basis of the probation;
(4) Suspend any practitioner's license; or
(5) Revoke a practitioner's license.
(b) The Board may withdraw or reduce conditions of probation when it finds that the deficiencies which required such action have been remedied.
(c) The Board may temporarily suspend a practitioner's license in advance of a final adjudication, or during the appeals process; but only in cases where there is a clear and immediate danger to the health, safety welfare of the public If the licensee is allowed to continue to practice. Such suspension may be appealed.
(d) Where a license has been suspended due to a disability of the licensee, the Board may reinstate such license if, after a hearing, the Board is satisfied that the licensee is able to practice with reasonable skill and safety.
(e) As a condition to reinstatement of a suspended license, or removal from probationary status, the Board may impose such disciplinary or corrective measures as are authorized under this Chapter.
§3915. Board Hearings; Procedure
(a) Upon the receipt of a complaint, the Board shall determine what action, if any, it shall take. If the Board decides not to take any further action, and the complainant is known to the Board, the Board shall forward by letter to the complainant its reasons for not taking further action. Where the Board has determined to take further action, the matter shall be heard by the Board within three months from the date on which the complaint was received. The Board shall fix the time and place for a full hearing of the matter, and shall cause a copy of the complaint, together with a notice of the time and place fixed for the hearing, to be personally delivered or served upon the practitioner at least thirty days before the date fixed for the hearing. In cases where the practitioner cannot be located or where personal service cannot be effected, substitute service shall be effected in the same manner as with civil litigation.
(b) All hearings shall be informal without use of the rules of evidence. If the Board finds, by a majority vote of all members, that the complaint has merit, the Board shall take such action permitted under this Chapter as it deems necessary. The Board's decision shall be in writing and shall include its reasons for such decision. A copy of the decision shall be mailed immediately to the practitioner. The Board's decision shall become effective on the thirtieth day after the date it is mailed or served on the practitioner, unless there is an appeal by the practitioner to the Superior Court within that time.
(c) Where the practitioner is in disagreement with the action of the Board, he may appeal the Board's decision to the Superior Court within thirty days of service, or of the postmarked date of the copy of the decision mailed to him. Upon such appeal the Court shall hear the evidence de novo and the tiling of an appeal shall act as a stay of the Board's decision, pending final determination of the practitioner's appeal.
(a) Where the Board has determined that a person is practicing clinical social work within this State without having lawfully obtained a license therefor, or that a person previously licensed is unlawfully practicing although his license as been suspended or revoked, the Board shall formally warn such person. If the offense continues, the Board shall make a formal complaint to the Attorney General. The complaint shall include all evidence known to, or in the possession of, the Board.
(b) Where the Board has placed a practitioner on probationary status under certain restrictions or conditions, and the Board has detemined that such restrictions or conditions are being or have been violated by the practitioner, it may, after a hearing on the matter, suspend or revoke the practitioner's license.
(c) Where a person not currently licensed as a under this Chapter is convicted of unlawfully practicing clinical social work in violation hereof such offender shall, upon the first offense, be fined fifty dollars ($50), and shall pay all costs. Where a person is convicted a second or subsequent time of practicing clinical social work in violation of this Chapter the fine assessed against such person be increased by two hundred and fifty dollars ($250) for each subsequent offense thereafter."
Section 3. Amend §10161, Chapter 101, Title 29 of the Delaware Code by adding thereto a new subsection, designated as subsection (17), which new subsection shall read as follows:
"(17) Board of Social Work Examiners."
Section 4. The board of Social Work Examiners shall not be terminated, but shall continue as re-organized in accordance with this Act.
Section 5. Each member of the present Board of Social Work shall serve out the term for which he was appointed. The incumbency of any hold-over member shall terminate on the effective date of this Act. Notwithstanding the fact that Section 2 of this Act provides for a Board of five members, the Board of Social Work Examiners shall contain all present members who have unexpired terms, together with two newly-appointed public members. One of the initial public member shall be appointed for a term of one year; and the other public member shall be appointed for a term of two years. Upon expiration of each term of presently-existing board members, no new members shall be appointed until such time as the terms of all but two social workers have expired. At such time one new social worker shall be appointed to the Board. No present member who has served on the Board for more than three years shall be eligible for re-appointment.
Section 6. The provisions of his Act shall become effective thirty days after its enactment into law.
Approved July 23, 1982.